Characteristics and Outcomes of Individuals With Pre-existing Kidney Disease and COVID-19 Admitted to Intensive Care Units in the United States

STOP-COVID Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale & Objective: Underlying kidney disease is an emerging risk factor for more severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) illness. We examined the clinical courses of critically ill COVID-19 patients with and without pre-existing chronic kidney disease (CKD) and investigated the association between the degree of underlying kidney disease and in-hospital outcomes. Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Settings & Participants: 4,264 critically ill patients with COVID-19 (143 patients with pre-existing kidney failure receiving maintenance dialysis; 521 patients with pre-existing non-dialysis-dependent CKD; and 3,600 patients without pre-existing CKD) admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) at 68 hospitals across the United States. Predictor(s): Presence (vs absence) of pre-existing kidney disease. Outcome(s): In-hospital mortality (primary); respiratory failure, shock, ventricular arrhythmia/cardiac arrest, thromboembolic events, major bleeds, and acute liver injury (secondary). Analytical Approach: We used standardized differences to compare patient characteristics (values > 0.10 indicate a meaningful difference between groups) and multivariable-adjusted Fine and Gray survival models to examine outcome associations. Results: Dialysis patients had a shorter time from symptom onset to ICU admission compared to other groups (median of 4 [IQR, 2-9] days for maintenance dialysis patients; 7 [IQR, 3-10] days for non-dialysis-dependent CKD patients; and 7 [IQR, 4-10] days for patients without pre-existing CKD). More dialysis patients (25%) reported altered mental status than those with non-dialysis-dependent CKD (20%; standardized difference = 0.12) and those without pre-existing CKD (12%; standardized difference = 0.36). Half of dialysis and non-dialysis-dependent CKD patients died within 28 days of ICU admission versus 35% of patients without pre-existing CKD. Compared to patients without pre-existing CKD, dialysis patients had higher risk for 28-day in-hospital death (adjusted HR, 1.41 [95% CI, 1.09-1.81]), while patients with non-dialysis-dependent CKD had an intermediate risk (adjusted HR, 1.25 [95% CI, 1.08-1.44]). Limitations: Potential residual confounding. Conclusions: Findings highlight the high mortality of individuals with underlying kidney disease and severe COVID-19, underscoring the importance of identifying safe and effective COVID-19 therapies in this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)190-203.e1
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19 outcome
  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • altered mental status
  • chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • clinical course
  • clinical trajectory
  • critical illness
  • dialysis
  • end-stage kidney disease (ESKD)
  • end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
  • glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
  • in-hospital mortality
  • intensive care unit (ICU)
  • prognosis
  • renal function
  • severe COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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